Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
The Tourist Gaze
British administration became increasingly wary
of Indians on the plains. The Mutiny was a
major shock to the Raj, which clearly shied
away from admitting that perceptions of the Raj
by the Raj did not accord with those of the
majority of Indians in India. Worlds of percep-
tion and reality were thus far apart (Money-
Kyrle, 1956), and the insecurity caused by the
Mutiny almost certainly fuelled the British
retreat to the hills. Here, their comparatively
large numbers gave the illusion that they were
less of a minority than on the plains. This dis-
tancing of the administration from the plains
was strongly opposed by government offi cers
remaining in Calcutta and Madras, and also by
the growing strength of the Indian Nationalists,
who complained that the core of the British
Administration was becoming increasingly iso-
lated and out of touch with the pulse of India
(Clarke, 1881). In spite of this, the British
remained blinkered and pressed ahead with
the development of their hill stations, a symbol
of their power and domination in India. They
left the administration on the plains in the safe
hands of Anglo Indians, people trusted because
of their close ties with the Europeans and
whose very existence according to Said (1979)
refl ected European possession and mastery of
the Orient.
Hill stations declined between the wars and
were a shadow of their earlier colonial splen-
dour by independence. Most of the British had
gone by then and of those who were still there,
most had left by 1960. After a relatively quiet
period, hill stations have now been rediscov-
ered as tourist resorts. Predictably, they have
quite a different fl avour from colonial times.
They have grown in importance along with
global and domestic tourism, with increasing
disposable incomes among India's middle
classes (Fernandes, 2000, 2006) and the explicit
desire of this group to enjoy their leisure time.
Improved technology has enhanced the quality
of roads and vehicles, and developments in
electronic technology have brought to a wider
audience in India and overseas the existence
and beauty of hill stations. Bearing in mind all
the limitations identifi ed at the start of this chap-
ter, we now return to the visitors to the hills, past
and present, and examine how their gaze may
have been constructed and how it has changed
over time.
As Urry (2002) observes, 'What makes a par-
ticular tourist gaze depends upon what it is con-
trasted with; what the forms of non-tourist
experience happen to be. The gaze therefore,
presupposes a system of social activities and
signs which locate the particular tourist prac-
tices, not in terms of some intrinsic characteris-
tics, but through the contrasts implied with
non-tourist social practices, particularly those
based within the home and paid work' (Urry,
2002, pp. 1-2). The gaze, however, has its crit-
ics: Crouch (2002) argues that major limitations
of the gaze are that it is two-dimensional, is
limited to the visual and does not speak of
engagement with the environment. Crouch
(2002) advocates the need to extend the gaze,
to include the embodiment of space and the
multidimensional experiences of tourists them-
selves. He observes that the sensing of space by
the tourist or visitor is far more complex than
the gaze would suggest; however, in our case,
proceeding with an analysis of the embodiment
of space would be extremely diffi cult in histori-
cal settings as access to tourists is impossible.
The gaze, however, is arguably a more attrac-
tive tool for analysis because it can be based
on existing images and cultural stereotypes
(Pagenstecher, 2007); thus, unattractive as it
may seem to some, the gaze may be con-
structed by the non-involved bystander. It is
this detachment which has made it popular
and the tourist industry is arguably one of the
worst culprits, as the marketing of destinations
is now 'Fordist', according to Pagenstecher
(2007), and is based on the constructed gaze
of the 'average' tourist who is denied all indi-
viduality (Perkins and Thorns, 2001; Coleman
and Crang, 2002).
The gaze can also provide the context
through which space becomes enlivened by the
human conduct, which gives it meaning (Massey,
1994, cited in Crouch, 2002). Using the gaze, as
did Foucault (2003, p. ix), for 'the act of seeing'
and analysing power relations between medical
practitioner and patient, leisure visitors can
similarly exert control on the people and envi-
ronments which are the subjects of their gaze.
This is especially relevant to the way in which
Europeans gazed upon and saw hill environ-
ments, the way they took them for their own
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